Can You Use Water Based Paint In The Bathroom? (Answered!)

So, whether you’re just starting as a painter or you’re a more skilled DIY homeowner, this question must have passed through your mind – Can you use water based paint in the bathroom?

Well, you can use water based paints in the bathroom, especially latex paints, to paint the walls, ceilings, floors, and even fixtures. Essentially, that’s because water-based paints are moisture-resistant once dry, glossier, easy to clean, quick-drying, safer, and pretty durable.

Generally, the type of paint you choose for your bathroom should withstand the harsh conditions that are invariably typical to bathrooms. That includes regular scrubbing, harsh chemicals, humid conditions, lingering steam (in the case of a shower), and mold growth.

Since water-based paints tick all these boxes, there is no reason you shouldn’t use them. That’s unless it’s a highly high-humid condition and the paint doesn’t get enough time to dry at all.

Let’s explore this subject more:

Can you use water based paint in the bathroom

6 Reason You Can Use Water Based Paints in the Bathroom

Essentially, you can use water-based paints in the bathroom because of these reasons:

1. Water-Based Paints Are Moisture-Resistant When Dry

Water-based paints are water-soluble and turn moisture-resistant when dry, making them best for water-exposed surfaces like the bathroom walls and floors. So, the paint coat won’t soak up water and get damaged by it once dry.

2. Water-Based Paints Are Glossy

Water-based paints, especially acrylic-latex paints, have a glossy finish that generally improves your bathroom’s elegance. The glossiness also boosts their moisture resistance as it repels moisture from soaking.

3. Water-Based Paints Easy to Clean

Latex water-based paints, in particular, offer you a smooth finish that you can easily clean with soap and water. You cannot do that with regular paints.

And since the paint is water-soluble, it also allows you to clean the brushes and the containers that you use for the painting easily.  

4. Water-Based Paints Are Quick-Drying

Except for high-humidity conditions, water-based paints dry much faster between coats than oil-based paints. As a result, they allow you to apply as many coats as you want, which is essential when remodeling or upgrading your bathroom walls.

Overall, water-based paints dry to the touch in 1 hour, and you can recoat them in 4 hours.

5. Water-Based Paints Are Safe

Water-based paints release close to zero VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), unlike oil-based paints. As a result, they are safer to use in an indoor space like the bathroom. Additionally, they are less odorous.

6. Water-Based Paints Are Pretty Durable

Water-based paints may not be as tough as oil-based paints but are durable enough once they dry. If applied with a suitable primer, they don’t peel off easily, thus likely to serve you longer.

do i need special paint for bathroom

What Type of Paint Is Best for A Bathroom?

Oil-based paints might seem like the appropriate choice for bathrooms due to their durability and toughness. However, these paints have major drawbacks: strong odor, high-level emission of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and more extended dry periods between coats.

For those reasons, they aren’t the best for the bathroom. If you want the best paint for the bathroom, consider water-based paints, and it’s because they offer the following advantages

  • Quick-drying time
  • Durability
  • Ease of washing
  • Improved moisture resistance
  • Less odor
  • Glossier finish

Note that water-based paints are also known as latex-acrylic paints in the USA or emulsions in the UK.

What Types of Water-Based Paints Are Best for the Bathroom?

Essentially, we have the following sets of water-based paints that you can use in your bathroom:

a) Acrylic Latex Paints

Acrylic latex paints are best for the bathroom because they are more moisture-resistant and have a glossier finish. Note, however, that while most sellers use the terms acrylic and latex together to mean one thing, the two are actually different.

Acrylic paints, sometimes known as enamel paints, have more acrylic polymer, making them more water-resistant and durable than latex. They also adhere much better and withstand cleaning better, even though they’re costlier than latex paints.

One excellent acrylic paint for bathrooms is the Majic Paints 8-1500-4 Diamond Acrylic Enamel Paint. This paint has a high-gloss finish; thus naturally beautiful, scratch-resistant, and water-resistant.

It works on various surfaces and projects and not just the bathroom. So, you can apply it on vinyl, glass, tile, metal, and even wood anywhere in your house. The paint is generally easy to use.

b) Epoxy Water-Based Paints

Water-based epoxy paint is generally best for painting less porous surfaces in your bathroom space, such as the floor. The good thing about them is that they are not just water-resistant but also impact-resistant and slip-resistant, thus a good choice for the bathroom floor.

One top consideration is the Pond Armor Sku-Clear-3GA Epoxy Paint (View on Amazon). This epoxy waterproof paintwork in harsh climates is generally non-toxic. It dries faster and is usually easy to apply.

The best thing about it is that it contains a self-priming formulation that promises reliable adhesion and saves you from buying a primer separately.

is water based primer ok for bathroom

When You Shouldn’t Use Water Based Paints in the Bathroom

While water-based paints are best for bathrooms because of their water-resistance properties, they are not the best for high-humid environments.

Yes, I know the bathroom is a high-humid area, but it’s only high-humid when in use. So, the conditions are pretty standards when not in use.

Remember, water-based paints have first to dry to become water-resistant. If they don’t, which is often the case of high-humidity (wet climate) areas, then they won’t get to the level of becoming water-resistant.

What Are the Downsides of Using Water Based Paints in the Bathroom?

As good as water-based paints are for bathrooms, they are not free from a few downsides.

For one, they tend to take longer to dry in high-humid zones (wet climate areas). So, they are not water-resistant until they dry, which means the shower water can easily wash them off.

Two, while these paints enjoy a high-gloss finish, which they are likely to maintain for a lifetime, the finish becomes brittle with age. Additionally, you’ll need to apply a primer before the paint to improve its adhesion.

One top primer to use in your bathroom is the KILZ L204511 Primer. This primer has mildew-resistant properties and generally works in high-humid conditions like the bathroom and kitchen.

The primer guarantees a smoother finish, and it’s generally quick-drying. Furthermore, it seals porous surfaces, thus best for bathroom renovations.

is water based paint waterproof

Choosing the Paint Finish is Equally Important

When picking water-based paint, it’s essential to choose how glossy the coat will look after drying. We call it the paint finish or sheen, and it usually comes in these four options:

a) Gloss

Gloss finishes offer the most moisture protection and are the easiest to clean up, thus among the best for bathrooms.

They are also long-lasting and have a shiny, elegant look. Their only downside is that they take longer to dry and may show imperfection on your wall and ceilings.

However, a glossy finish has more binders and resins, which gives it a denser molecular structure that enables water to evaporate rather than collect.

b) Semi-Gloss

Semi-gloss finishes have almost the same properties as gloss finishes. Like gloss, semi-gloss is easy to clean up, moisture-resistant, and elegant.

But unlike gloss, semi-gloss has quick-drying properties. It, however, shows imperfects like its siblings.

c) Matte

Matte has a softer, glossier, and luxurious look that makes it quite appealing. Sadly, the finish is prone to moisture-attack and peeling. Unlike gloss, matte has more pigments, but fewer binders and thus absorbs moisture quickly.

Matte is also poor at withstanding abrasion. So, choosing it may mean regular recoating to maintain it.

d) Satin

Satin has a glossier finish, just like matter. It’s, however, not the easiest to clean.

e) Eggshell

Eggshell finishes have the same properties and downsides as matte. The only difference is that they are less smooth and less relaxed.

People Also Ask

1. Do I Need Special Paint for Bathroom?

Your bathroom needs paint with a high-gloss finish to promote water resistance and resistance against mold and mildew. Preferably, you should go for water-based latex paint as it demonstrates all these properties.

2. Can You Use Water Based Paint in a Shower?

Yes, you can use water-based paint to paint the walls and other parts in a shower. Consider, however, latex water-based paints for the most high-gloss and water-resistant finish. Latex paints also promise easy cleanup and less odor.

3. Is Water Based Paint Waterproof?

Unused and recently applied water-based paints are only water-soluble but not water-resistant. They become water-resistant after drying. For that reason, most people generally describe them as water-resistant.

It’s, however, recommendable to use a primer before the final coat if you want to achieve a higher degree of water resistance.

4. What Finish is Best for Bathroom Paint?

The best paint finish for bathroom paint is semi-gloss. Semi-gloss is shinier, easy to clean, fast-drying, and, more importantly, resistant against chipping and water damage.

Secondary considerations include satin and matte. They are just as elegant as semi-gloss.

5. Is Water Based Primer OK for Bathroom?

A primer acts as a base that offers a surface for the paint to adhere to. It also acts as a sealer that prevents paint absorption by the painted surface.

Due to improved robustness, easy cleanup, and the fact that no special solvent is required, a water-based primer is OK for a bathroom.

6. Do I Need to Prime Bathroom Walls Before Painting?

Essentially, a primer helps get rid of moisture on the bathroom walls for better paint adhesion. If you don’t prime your bathroom walls, then it’s likely that the paint will start to peel off at some point. So, a primer is most recommendable.

Can You Use Water Based Paint in the Bathroom? Closing Remarks!

As discussed, you can use water-based paints in the bathrooms. Your work will be met with success if you ensure that you apply a primer if the conditions are very humid and choose the right finish.

But more importantly, you should go for acrylic or epoxy water-based paints as they promise the best return.   

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